Friday, January 30, 2009

The Children of Gaza and the Security of Israel

I am still devastated by what took place in Gaza. 440 children or more died in Gaza, as the latest statistics tell us. I am not sure about the number of children who will never recover from their injuries or will be disabled for life. Of the disabled, many will live with amputated limbs.  Think of the impossible burdens their families, most of them poor, will have to carry for years to come. Limbless in Gaza. I do not know about you but I am bearing witness still. On the eve of the war, my prophetic soul knew about the horror that was to be. As an artist, I  knew that I was going to be tested by fire. And when hell opened its gaping gates I went through, in my mind's eye, in order to pass to the other side. I thought, may be naively, that I shall kneel by the dying children and hush them into sleep and peace
. Israel screams that they were killed by Hamas and Hamas says it was the brutal invasion of Israel which sent them to their graves. Israel also says, in the way of justification, about the bombing of the UNRWA school which killed about 40 people, that the children of Hamas were sheltering in the school! 
 It was man's inhumanity to man that killed them. the utter futility and barbarism of a war launched to crush and teach obedience. The bankruptcy of all our shameful human Endeavour gapes at us. In the games of power and dominance and the desire to have all, the blind egoism of the victor and the self centeredness of a people who want to live in peace, prosperity and comfort, deafening their ears and hardening their hearts, in their attempt to block out the rights, the plight and the absolute despair of the people they sinned against, they  who stand all around them, gazing with infinite sorrow at the land that was theirs. Deprivation, hunger and need stare them in the eye but they see nothing except that their protective psychological and mental armour is being compromised. It is a fight for survival that only accept one solution, the demise of the Palestinians in various ways, all acceptable, all justified.  What about live and let live. What about, they are like us, they breathe, they feel, they dream.  What about the notions of mercy, compassion, justice, equality and fair play. Those children need not have died such horrific deaths were it not that Israel's  bigotry, its falsification of history and facts, in addition to the  complicity of the world powers, were the main weapons that spelled death to them and destruction to their city.
As hard as I try, I do not seem to begin to understand what is meant by Israel's security. In the name of Israel's security, the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are herded into reservations. Like the Red Indians of old, the Gazans are denied their sources of food and subjected to hunger. What is this security that kills, crushes and ruthlessly treads on the rights of those who do not belong to the chosen ? What mystifies me more is that the theme of the security of Israel has become a sort of litany that America and the West never tire of repeating. It so happens that the security of Israel, among other things. is just a euphemism for the mutual interests that bind Israel and the big powers in the clutches of a grip that, for better or worse, does not relent. Thus the security of Israel has become a monstrous concept that stands for the worst of Israel's creeds as well as the worst of the US and the West's disintegrating imperial practices. The security of Israel is a pathetic remnant of a vanishing tradition of domination. It is not only obsolete but obscene. No where in the world is there a country that holds another in bondage for what seems an eternity with the sanction of the main civilized and free countries of the world, but in Israel. Can't anybody put me out of my misery and explain it to me? Moreover,can anybody tell me as well why the subjugated occupied party should accept this travesty nicely and not spoil the fun by objecting to it? All reasoning, all logic, all ethics and all justice fail when it comes to the security of Israel.

Monday, January 26, 2009

World Court of Conscience

I was trying to sleep last night but I kept seeing in my mind's eye the ghostly procession of Gaza's dead children.  Perhaps I am also a casualty of the Gaza war, like many others who watched the war on Gaza on Al-Jazeera.  I cannot let go. The images of what befell them keep invading my very being. I might forget the women the men, the old folk but I cannot forget the children. Why? The answers are many but paramount among them is that, like in many other cases in the Occupied Territories and all over the world, especially Africa,  the killers are going to escape justice.The giant world media will see to it that Israel will emerge whiter than white, fully vindicated or forgiven should any blame be attached to it. Look at the tears Olmert and his entourage are shedding for the victims of the war in Gaza. Doesn't it break your heart?
The problem is that the handkerchief he is holding to dry up his tears is dripping blood. Never the less we are asked to suspend belief and listen to his verdict.  It was the Hamas.  It was the Hamas who butchered the children, burnt Gaza and leveled its districts to the ground. This gets me worried indeed but what gets me even more worried is the way some of the big European countries are behaving. What defies understanding even the most pragmatic forms of it is the manner with which they are conducting themselves. They seem to have enlisted themselves in the Israeli defense forces. Gaza's blockade by land is not enough.  Now it is going to be blockaded by sea. O the tunnels, the tunnels. The tunnels which mainly brought food, medicines, live stock, clothing, and served as Gaza's windows on the world because of the closure of the crossings, the tunnels have emerged on our world stage as a weapon of mass destruction deserving the attention of the most sophisticated navies in the world and the latest cry in the-state-of-the-arts surveillance equipment. Gaza is  going to be a Warsaw Ghetto indeed. And they say they are going to rebuild Gaza.
Are they going to build a nicer and a more modern prison?  Is the prison of Gaza going to be the pride of the free world? A prison is a prison and not all the cosmetics of the world are going to sweeten and beautify its confines. And this Gaza they are besieging, where is it, how gigantic are its proportions and size.  I advise you not to try to locate it on the world map. You will not find it with the naked eye.
In view of all this I have very little hope that the International Court of Justice and the UN Human Rights Organizations and all the other official world legal bodies will condemn  Israel for the war crimes it committed in Gaza. War crimes?  What war crimes? The most virtuous army of Israel, according to Olmert  does not commit crimes. The Israeli government is preparing the defense for the soldiers and officers who were ordered to Gaza purely as an exercise in procedure.
No army in the world can be described as virtuous. In the very training of soldiers brutality is almost a requirement. Only it is expected from regular armies to abide by the Geneva conventions for the very reason that the beast in the human nature, usually released by bloodshed, should come under control and be restrained. I am not going to retell the tale of the savage bombardment of Gaza. Nor Am I going to be engaged in the description of the terrible destruction of land, tree and farm. I am also leaving aside the barbarous annihilation of entire districts and the assassination of a city. But I am not letting go of the murdered children.
When finally the Israeli soldiers left their armoured tanks and advanced on the suburbs of Gaza, adjacent to the countryside, one of the darkest chapters in the history of warfare was etched on the memory of the surviving Palestinian children, in particular. Almost hidden by a canopy of weapons.they penetrated the broken shattered houses in which the civilians huddled together, defenseless, hungry and cold or wounded by the bombardment. What they did exactly we shall never know   in many parts. A team of forensic experts might unravel some of the facts.There are no such teams in Gaza.
The corpses of some of the dead children and the bodies of some of those who were saved  carried evidence of bullets, shot wounds aimed at the chest , the legs and arms. I shall never forget the gaping holes in the chests of two small children aged between two and three.  Their father, a simple farmer kept showing them to the people around him in the hospital and screaming, why kill my babies? His words were slurred and impaired. He was almost incoherent. I do not believe he will ever recover from the shock. From about three years old to fourteen years old, the surviving children told the same terrible story of executions, murder and barbarous ruthlessness committed amidst peals of laughter and sick jokes.
Therefore I ask , shall we let go or try to bring the perpetrators to justice? If they escape justice sooner or later the killer soldiers will end in mental or psychiatric hospitals. If not, they will condemn themselves to a life of remorse, haunted by their dark deeds.  Most likely,  n their remaining lives they will behave like psychopaths.
While the International experts are looking for evidence of war crimes in Gaza and endlessly debating, the nature, the facts or lack of facts, the reliability or lack of reliability of evidence, the applicability of the Geneva Conventions or the inapplicability, while they are looking for clues for war crimes under the most evident crime of all: the wanton and unnecessary destruction of Gaza and the lives of its civilians,  the souls of the dead children of Gaza roam the nights unappeased.  Their shades will haunt our failings. our bias, our convenient pragmatism  and our, at the end of the day, indifference. Our colonial heritage is mightier than our humanity ( this is my British side speaking). the scapegoat will remain the scapegoat goat. The choice is simple. Israel at any cost. Israel is always innocent until found innocent. The many people like Tony Ben, one of the last Knights of the Round Table, will not be listened to.
Since there is very little hope that Israel will be made accountable by any International law and human rights organizations, since there is very little hope that the International Court of Justice will be anything but selective in the way it dispenses justice, and since its selectivity is governed by the world powers, we should feel obliged to look for an alternative. A world Court of Conscience. What has given me the idea is that about 250 legal prosecuting forums and groups at the moment are preparing evidence against Israel in order to present to the International legal and human rights authorities. They have vowed not to rest until justice is done, now or even in 60 years time or more . This and The Prisoners of Conscience Organization made me think that we should bring into being the proposed World Court of Conscience. The presiding members of such a court will not come from politicians or politically manipulated members but from humanitarians, writers, artists, lawyers, magistrates,law makers,doctors, nursed and medics, philosophers, intellectuals and individuals whose services to mankind are recognized. Its judgments of conscience cannot be enforced legally but they will have moral authority and the spiritual might of the universal values and rights of mankind. Another dream. Perhaps.  But something is already in the making.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Letter to Obama

As I listened to Obama's inauguration speech yesterday. like millions and millions of people all over the world,a tiny spark of hope invaded my gloom. Do I dare hope ? Do we dare hope? Do I dare dream? Do we dare dream? For we all have a dream. We have a dream that there will be more justice and less suffering. That we shall all be made accountable equally. That we are all, we who are alive, shall walk in peace and raise our children in peace and when we are old have shelters above our heads. But why do we dare now when we could not before, during the murky years of Bush's administration? Perhaps there is something in the character of the man that has awakened in us visions of All men are equal.. And perhaps the impossible vision of all nations are equal and no nation is above the law no matter how mighty and great. Something in the earnest eloquent spirit of the man is saying to us, it might be, it just might be that a great leader of mankind is in the making. The moral bankruptcy of our world is so dire that there is a terribly sad dearth of leaders of vision and message. Obama, the fiber of your voice carries moral authority, Is this the moral authority of the island or of the continent.
I know that I speak a as a poet and as an artist. I know that I lack political schooling and grooming. I know that I am naive and in the game of power my voice does not count. Never the less I believe in goodness, wholesomeness, honour, generosity, speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defending the weak, and most of all I believe in love and life. Will this entitle me to be heard, entitles me to send an open letter to you Mr. President? You declared, We reject as false the choice between our safety and ideals.. But what is the definition of ideals? Are they the universal ideals of mankind. I reiterate, are they the ideals of the island or the ideals of the continent No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main...
You have inherited a bitter legacy indeed. A world at war in many of its parts, a world where many poor and torn countries walk in the darkness inflicted upon them by the mighty,a world whose wealth has been squandered and economy sabotaged by avarice and greed. Yours is the legacy bequeathed by an unrelenting ruthless administration which reeked havoc on a global scale and sawed the seeds of devastation and division, preaching the morality of shame. A network of terrible violence and hatred did come into being because a great nation and its fellow big powers failed to address the roots of violence and to acknowledge the old festering wrongs and wounds. When the greatest powers of the world fail to heal the results are famine, hunger, disease, massacres, wars and blind insane destruction.
Mr. President, I quote you, the time has come to...chose our better history...the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. These words which are derived from the Bill of Rights are noble in sentiment and premise. Only they should not apply exclusively to America and the Western world. There is a whole world outside which is hungry for justice and clamoring for happiness. You went on to say, Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. Do we dare hope that all this we can do. And all this we will do.
While writing this letter and quoting your beautiful words, I was thinking of the holocaust of Gaza and the endless tragedy of the Palestinian people. There are many Gazas in the world and they deserve addressing as well, but this is the Gaza I know at first hand. The war of Gaza Israel fought under the very eyes of the world. Previously the crimes Israel had committed against the Palestinian people remained largely hidden from the world, and willfully hidden by the Western world. This war was launched against a hungry besieged disinherited people amidst the global propaganda of the exclusive right of Israel to defend itself It seems to have been taken for granted that the Palestinians never had and will never have the right of self defense. The dreaded word terrorism will for always apply to any attempt by this hapless nation to defend itself and its land. Palestine, hitherto just an impossible and a vague concept in the logic of world powers, is not a respectable member of the UN. Any attempt at armed struggle is totally prohibited. Only Israel has the divine right to slaughter indiscriminately.
And Israel obliged in the most spectacular and incredible fashion. For days the skies of Gaza remained ablaze with uranium, phosphorus and dime explosions. Israel gets 90 per cent of its weapons from the US. for weeks the skies rained severed limbs, blasted vital organs and cancer to come on the helpless people of Gaza, especially the children. On the ground the tragedy was even more grotesque. As the army advanced, the people were rounded up, terrorized, driven from one spot to another and shot deliberately. The children were specially targeted. The wounded were left to bleed to death and when others beseeched and begged for mercy they were also silenced. In many cases the citizens were ordered out so that their houses can be looted in peace. Having finished their bloody deeds, the army then flattened the houses and demolished them. Those who remained behind in the broken homes stayed with the corpses of their relatives for days. Children and infants wailed and screamed but they were left to die of hunger and horrific injuries. Those who crawled out to safety on their hands and knees were shot at and hailed with ridicule and cruel humor.The ambulance men and medics were prevented from reaching them again and again. DEATH IN ITS MOST TERRIFIC FORMS OVERTOOK THEM. When the medics eventually reached them their corpses were decomposed beyond recognition. The corpses of children were devoured by the dogs. All that happened and was documented. The story was mostly revealed by the surviving children who in the telling were witnessing again and again the horror inflected upon them. Will they ever emerge from this nightmare, from the deadly confines of their memories? This is not only sick. It is insanely pathological. How can the soldiers who committed these crimes live with themselves. Will Israel try them? Will any International court of justice dare to try them? The Palestinians have a sort of a government in the occupied West Bank. This government is either too intimidated or too governed by self interest and the desire to play a role on the world stage to have the courage to prosecute the Israelis in the International Court of Justice for the war crimes committed in Gaza . But the crimes committed in Gaza under the very eye of the world should not be assigned to oblivion for political expediency. A man of your moral stature Mr. President cannot permit this to happen. The Palestinians are a people without a state therefore the so-called free governments of the world should take up their case and seek justice for them instead of receiving and embracing in public one of the perpetrators of this heinous crime. We ask for one law for all. Black and white, Christian and Muslim, Hindu and Jew One law for Palestine and Israel.
What is needed is the rule of law, applied indiscriminately to all. No country in the world should be above the law. Israel broke almost all the resolutions of the UN. Israel can act with total impunity. It was never prosecuted for any crime. The Us and the Western world have given Israel a special status in the world community. Israel is above the law. Israel can murder and wage lethal wars with unquestionable immunity. Israel can rewrite every code of behavior and every law in order to serve the people of Israel at the expense of their victims, the Palestinians. Israel can turn a whole nation into beggars and steal their land, flatten their villages and cities, almost starve them to death with unquestionable righteousness. Let the world tell the maimed children whom Israel has left behind that they have no rights because Israel dictates their fate and the universal laws do not apply to them..Was all this ruthless destruction wrought upon a defenseless people, was it fought in order to ensure the security of Israel? Why can't Israel understand that the only security it can ever dream of will only come thought justice to the Palestinian people. All the prisons and ghettos, all the wars and dearth dealt to its victims will not ensure the safety of its people. The walls it is building to shut the Palestinians out are the same walls that are shutting it in inside a huge ghetto of its own making. The Jewish people fought so hard in order to free themselves from the ghettos of Europe only to end in the ghetto of Israel, The walls Israel is still building will not last for ever and its friends will not be there for all eternity. If Israel continues to tread the road to perdition, I promise you that The US and the world's Jewish People will one day feel obliged to confront Israel and bring it into the fold of world justice and jurisdiction.
Mr. President I am not asking you to love Israel less but to love it more. Israel needs to be saved from itself. Israel needs to know that all are accountable and no crime is exempt. Israel needs a lesson in humility and a lesson in humanity. A lesson in justice and a lesson in responsibility. A lesson in universal morality and a lesson in coexistence. A lesson in seeking the truth not fabricating it. Israel has the right to defend itself so does every nation in the world. So do the Palestinians. Why do we never hear that a beleaguered occupied besieged nation is also entitled to defend itself against tyranny, continuous violence and aggression? See what happened in Gaza. The defenseless were slaughtered and their city wantonly demolished and destroyed. They could not face might with might. Their meager defenses failed utterly failed. Did the world powers try to defend Gaza, try to stop the senseless bloodbath until it was too late? For three weeks Gaza was pounded with the most sophisticated weapons of mass destruction while the great custodians of world morality stood and waited. No city any where in the world should embrace the terrible fate of Gaza and its children. Why was the war conducted against the women, children, old men , the land, the hospitals, the schools, the mosques, the infra structure of sustaining life. the UN establishments? Why were the combatants not the sole target? The war did not damage them.It did the children It did their mothers. May be the combatants were never the true target. We have lived to see this. Help us Mr. President not to see this repeated for our cup of suffering is full and our souls yearn for jubilation not lamentation. No more lamentation.
Yes, Mr. President your burden is almost unbearable. You are reaping a harvest of conflicts and terrible suffering all over the world. It is too much for one man, too shattering. too unbearable. Naturally charity starts at home. But the people of Gaza must be saved now. Every passing moment is making it too late. In Gaza the clock of annihilation is kicking. Those who were not killed by war are being killed by peace and inaccessibility. The war of the crossings is raging unabated.
If a Palestinian state comes into being with your help, this state should be inviolate and sovereign.A land of opportunity where the Palestinians can engage in the pursuit of happiness and stand tall and equal. It should be the country of the free not the country of the paupers and the deprived. A country that Israel will not invade and overrun when it fancies.A country where the Palestinian children can sing and play and engage in childish things A country defended and guarded by the world community and protected by the good will of the freedom and justice loving peoples of the world All this we say to you Mr. President For we have a dream Mr. President. The dream of a great man made it possible for you to become the President of the US and perhaps a dream not a nightmare will bring Palestine into being. A great poet once said that in dreams starts reality.
Mister president, the Palestinians have a dream that one day freedom will ring from one hilltop to another, from their villages, from their earth and from their skies, that freedom will ring from their sacred olive groves, that freedom will ring from the ruins of Gaza to the Dome of the rock They have a dream that they will no longer live in ghettos and slums, that somehow this situation can and will be changed., that they will not wallow in the valley of despair for ever. They have a dream.
Will it one day be said of you, a good man walked among us and we and our world are the better for it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tell my moon to rise and let me be laid instead

A simple Palestinian country woman bent over her youthful dead daughter at the hospital, keening:
Let the moon rise and let me be laid instead
Rise my moon rise
This simple lament pierced my heart. It drew my attention to what the mourners were saying. Many of them were simple folk and hard working countrymen and women who lived tuned to the land and the seasons. The death of their children, sometimes all of them, or relatives and the death of their orchards, trees and animals left them bereft beyond consolation and beyond redemption. The old folk in particular who were left behind wailed their toothless grief bending helplessly and pitifully over the shattered heaps of their flattened unrecognizable homes. In some cases entire families and extended families were wiped out, 4-30 members.
         The Lament of the Bereaved Old Men and Women
of Gaza
They killed my sons
They killed my daughters
Where Shall I go
They killed my sisters
They killed my brothers
Where Shall  I go
They wrecked my home
They destroyed my shelter
Where shall I go
They burnt my olives
They blazed my orchard
Where shall I go
They killed my donkey
They blasted my chickens
Where shall I go
I am homeless
I am landless
Where shall I go
Who will open their door for me
They have no doors
They have no windows
Where shall I go

Monday, January 19, 2009

When I am laid in earth

They tell the world Israel acted in self defense. the almost defenseless Gazans fell in hundreds and Gaza was savagely destroyed yet Israel was defending itself. The super powers scrambled rushing to the scene of carnage in the wake of Israel's day of butchery during which every possible and impossible war crime was committed under the very eyes of a shocked world, they dashed to show solidarity with the murderers and ensure that the Gazans will never be armed again, never have even the most primitive means  to defend themselves so that they can be butchered quietly, without causing headaches to the free civilized world.  Only Israel has the right of self defense. How dare they let the hyena loose among the lambs? How dare they preach their moral superiority and that of their god-daughter with the shadows of the deaths of hundreds of innocent children hanging over their heads? BUT THEY SEE NO EVIL AND HEAR NO EVIL. The siege of Gaza instead of being lifted is reimposed in more subtle forms and is signed and sealed. Not even a token of arms of any description will reach the Gazans.  The seas and oceans are going to be guarded and the only weapons that will cross them are the huge shipments of the most sophisticated weapons of annihilation on their march towards replenishing the satiated arsenals of Israel. The tunnels which mostly smuggled food and the necessities of life to the hungry Gazans are no more and will be watched by the big brothers of the world from this day henceforth. Strangle and strangle more. Woe to the weak for they will not inherit the earth. Woe to the weak for they shall be destroyed again and again and their seed will be scattered and their land desecrated. Do you call Operation Cast Lead  the right of Israel to self defense? Do you call destroying and targeting the schools, the personnel and the stores of the UN self defense? Do you call bombing the Red Cross and the Red Crescent and bombing ambulances and the paramedics with their patients  self  defense?  Shame on you. What travesty of all that is decent,sacred and humane? What desecration of all human rights and  the International rule of law. Instead of using your formidable armada to enforce the embargo, why don't your ships in addition to policing the seas also break the siege of Gaza and establish a naval humane corridor to relieve the hunger and the distress of the people of Gaza, to evacuate the wounded children and in the future to allow the rebuilding of Gaza? Do you want peace then let us see you work for peace? If the Gazans are going to be left defenceless why don't you defend them. Did you come to end the siege or to start a new one?
One hundred bodies were dug up yesterday in Gaza from the ruins of their houses, amidst the lamentations of the mothers and the children who were helping to free the bodies of their parents, relatives and brothers and sisters.The old men and woman crouched helplessly wailing the terrible fate of the living and the dead. The paramedics and the ambulance men worked persistently, their desperation and anguish giving them almost a super human power, as if they were trying to free the souls of the buried people by laying them for a moment on the broken earth under the stunned heavens before taking them away.
They shall be remembered and lamented as befitting the departure of those who were living. No body said farewell to them, no relatives stood by their deathbeds and prayed.  They are almost unrecognizable. But they shall be lovingly remembered and gently lamented.
Dido, the Queen of Carthage's lament washes all over me and the accompanying tragic  music of Purcell rises and falls taking up the theme of mourning and mingling with the maternal lamentations of the Gazans:
...darkness shades me,
On thy bosom let me rest,
More I could, but death invades me;
....When I am laid in earth...
Remember me,remember me...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage rage against the dying of the light
                              Dylan Thomas
 People of the world, artists. poets and writers rage rage against the dying of children, the dying of their light
Suddenly poems crowd in my mind,  They gleam illuminating my journey and the journey of millions of other people all over the world into the dark night of Gaza. Eliot's Waste Land  with its final message of peace resonates:
Shantih Sshantih shantih
It is time to spirit travel to Gaza this morning. I am on my way Gaza mon amour. I am at Deir Al-Hawa. Hiroshima, you come to my mind. The landscape of ruined demolished bulldozed burnt habitats stretch choking the skylines under a sky of cast lead, ruthless like a biblical sky of pestilence.. By the waters of Gaza I sat down and cried. Let me penetrate the broken steal and cement, let me penetrate the dusty rubble of the mounds of annihilation, the shattered ominous unhallowed graves of the innocents. We are here. Millions of people have come with me.  Forgive us. Please hear us and let us penetrate your pitiful unrequited slumber. We have come to sing a requiem for the dead . We see you.  Please hear us and let us surround you with our compassion. So many have bled to death surrounded by their dead or dying loved ones.  In the hardness of shattered concrete they yielded to their stony adamant end. They who were living are now dead.
To Carthage then I came
Burning burning burning burning
O Lord thou pluckest me out
O Lord thou pluckest
(The Waste Land  by T.S.Eliot)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dance Macabre and the Day of the Jackal

The beleaguered victimized mournful Livni with righteous tears streaming down her face ran to Condie Rice in Washington to ask for help.  Condie obliged.  She embraced the crying Livni, patted her, swore eternal friendship and assured her with an MOU. Thus opening a new chapter in the imprisonment and the siege  of the people of Gaza. It was a dance macabre in the grand style. It is as if the two formidable women were dancing on the violated graves of the Gazans and their children.  What was interesting (if one can use such a sacrilegious term) is that the infamous two were not only scrambling to revive the corpse of a dying administration, but were trying to hijack Obama and pull the carpet from under his feet, thus creating a status quo for him and sending a message, behave. The effrontery of the action, its flagrant violation of common decency, protocol , political etiquette and code of conduct is stunning. Will the day of the Jackal ever recede?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Earth Water Air are Dead in Gaza but Fire is Alive

It is time to go to Gaza.  Be brave my spirit and travel to the city of the Halfings.  Alas there is no Gandalf the White to send his flight of eagles to lift Frodo and Sam to safety. Mordor has killed the birds of the sky and nothing flies but the machines of death and destruction. Yet Mordor cannot stop the flight of spirits and my spirit is on its way to bear witness. I cannot breathe for the might of Israel has killed the air of Gaza. Go on my spirit. There were two mounds here where the wind played. Where are the trees and groves and the green earth? Where are the olives and the orange trees and the apple trees? Where are the people and their houses. Where are the children and their innocent laughter? They have killed the earth in Gaza.
And there is no water: Dust, endless dust:
  What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead trees give no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water....
  What is that sound in the high air,
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
                               (The Waste Land)
If there is water, a pool of compassion and the milk of human kindness.  Water is dead in Gaza.
But Fire is alive in Gaza, Hail to the day of fire and wanton senseless destruction. Fires rage and blaze devouring, food, sustenance, medicines and the hopes and lives of the dispossessed. Israel will leave but not before ensuring that  the forces and means of life which sustain and nurture are extinguished.
Go on my soul. The journey is not ended yet. Look for the children.Those whose parents and siblings met a violent death. They huddle in the corners wailing and wishing for death. They are ridden with guilt because they live. Many of them are running from one place to another in circles, carrying their younger siblings on their backs, dazed, lost, disoriented, without memories, homeless. fatherless and motherless. 
Khairat Al-Saleh
All the postings in this blog are by the author

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bearing Witness

Every morning as I wake up, it dawns upon me that it is yet another day of sorrow. I try to dodge the task I have set for myself, bearing witness. Sweet life pulls me in the direction of my art. Images of beauty and harmony wash all over me summoning me to that world which is the negation of all horrors and all woes. But I force myself to turn away from the beauty of the world to walk in the valley of the shadow death that Israel is forcing upon the people of Gaza. My spirit departs, its destination Gaza, The screams of women and children engulf me and I fall into the abyss of hell amidst the thick clouds of phosphor and the dense smoke of burning homes and carbonized bodies. Israel is also screaming Hamas Hamas Hamas did that Hamas is the murderer, Hmas is the devil. hamas has masterminded the assault. We are only defending ourselves. The  holy trio of the Israeli government rail and rave Hamas Hamas We are defending ourselves against the monster Hamas, but I am all eyes and all I can see is a city of refugees being sacked and torched, gradually forced to its knees among its ruins and the corpses of its children. May the holy trio of Israel choke on the charred bones and flesh and the heaps of rabble clogging the landscape. Are they waiting for the one thousand deaths to multiply to three, one thousand corpse for each, one thousand for Barak, one thousand for Livni and one thousand for Olmert.
Al-Jazeera was trying to contact a women, taking refuge with her children and other women in a room at a high-rise building in the besieged Deir Al-Hawa. She tried to talk on her mobile to describe the situation, They are surrounding our building with their tanks and fires, they.... are... downstairs.  Save us save us. Then there was nothing but screams, screams of terrified women and louder piercer screams of demented children. Screams, then more screams.The line suddenly fell silent. No more screams.
Thank you Thank you Thank you
Hail to the victor
Hail to the three forthcoming summits the Arab leaders are scrambling to hold, each trying to outdo the other.
Drape yourselves in black and walk in shame. 
The valiant city is falling
Gaza is dying
Convene your summits on its ruins and eulogize in the best tradition of the great Arab poets of old.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

O World Thou are Sick Part Two

Duty of Care

I woke up this morning to partake of my daily bread of horror . Must I and all those who are watching the tragedy of Gaza unfold ,ever revealing unprecedented levels of intolerable suffering and unrelenting cruelty, must we drink the cup of poison to the full? Is there no end to the rivers of lava shattering the skies and desecrating the earth, ever hungry for more fragile life to devour? Can't they put us out of our misery and stop it?

O world thou art sick. I see that we have two options only. Either we believe that we are living in the twilight of human ethical heritage, that is the universal human ethical body of reference to which, since the dawn of humanity religious thinkers, prophets, philosophers, intellectuals, teachers, visionaries, writers, poets, artists, and law givers have contributed , facing death, persecution and banishment in order to uphold; either we believe this and continue to cry out loud and clear:that the universal human ethics are what we have lived and survived by so far and will continue to live by, or surrender to the gathering ethical twilight in order to hail the dawning of the terrible ethical age of politics and the morality of super powers. Humanity is in danger of having to live by the shifting, changeable pragmatic morality of power with all its savagery, disregard to all but its self-righteousness and self gratification. This era which is governed by state ethics and the brilliant all persuasive ethical polemics of power , the state ethics of Israel and the USA for instance ,which legitimize and uphold a unique hallowed code of conduct and morals, blind and deaf to all but their lofty holy notions of pragmatic ascendancy and world domination. How many millions of people are going to be sacrificed to this terrible god of national interest, national security and self-defense which parade unabated claiming new glories, continuously citing terrorism and calling terrorists whoever says no, whoever differs in opinion. This process of disinheriting mankind and severing them from the sources of light and enlightenment has been going on for a long time but the force of its adamant progress at present has been unprecedented. In the words of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats;

Things fall apart; The centre cannot hold,

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere,

The Massacre of Innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Is full of passionate intensity.....

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

On a personal level, as an artist, I am sick to death and on a universal level I feel the sickness of the world too. On one level the world is sick because in the age of state ethics people are but pawns and vulnerable exposed pieces in the grand design of power, whether economic or humanitarian. The world is sick because it can no longer distinguish between right and wrong, black and white, dignity and humiliation, and the capacity to feel shame.Our world has no leaders . Such is the bankruptcy of our world that its political leaders are at best a product of their local necessities and dictates, unable to see beyond the confines of their geography and history, and at are worst advocates of annihilation and death. Where are the men and women of vision, where are the enlightened orators, philosophers, intellectuals and teachers who are going to and can stand up to the onslaught of the ethics of domination and the morality of the mass media of power which can preach the righteousness and justification of almost any crime committed against humanity and almost any genocide except those which fit into the framework of their exclusiveness, hegemony and world dominance..

Going back to the saga of exile, exiles, and the dispersion of the Palestinian nation, I believe we all should bend our heads in shame, countries and people for our complicity in allowing it to happen.. Should the whole world ask forgiveness of the Palestinians, this might soften but it will not wipe out a heinous crime committed against a peaceful nation so that the conscience of the West might be appeased for the crime the Nazis committed against the Jewish people. That is why it has become a taboo in the West to put any blame on the state they have created in Israel on the ruins of Palestine and the political genocide of its people. Only they have forgotten that what was created by injustice can only live by injustice and a crime committed to atone for a crime will perpetuate itself for all eternity until the taboos of silence are broken and the shameful premise upon which the Zionist state is built is purged of apartheid inhumanity to its victims and the disgraceful shameful enforcement upon the world awareness and conscience that Israel is always the victim, the everlasting victim and would be victim of the people it savagely uprooted and relentlessly pursued for the last 60 years, committing against them the most heinous crimes, displacing and dispossessing them again and again. If the West and the US say that Israel is a great democratic country fighting a bunch of terrorists for its very survival. This does not make it so. It is a lie. And this lie has been perpetuated for more than 60 years and paraded in the guise of truth until those who created the lie started themselves to regard it as the truth and nothing but the truth. The Palestinians are the victims not Israel. Israel's history of ruthlessness, savagery and terrible awful crimes against the humanity of the Palestinians is not only murky but unbelievably determined, cold-blooded, consistent and relentless. The state of Israel exists in the vacuum of moral lawlessness, in the inferno of ethical limbo no matter how it is glorified and hailed as a gusty democratic member of the civilized world and indeed the United Nations.

But the world is waking up. In many countries, Gaza has become a symbol of the peoples own struggle for justice ,for freedom; their own quest for integrity and dignity, their prayers to raise their beloved children in peace. Gaza has become a symbol for their own struggle to be heard and counted and for their struggle to make the political adventurers accountable. Gaza has become engraved in our minds and spirits as part of the human search for emancipation in all its dimensions and forms. The pictures of the children of Gaza, dead, mutilated and terrorized, the peoples of the world are raising high and parading under because no human being would and should accept the terrible anguished death of children screaming for their mothers and tearing the heart of heavens. The masses of the world have taken the dead and dying children of Gaza into their hearts and are lovingly marching for them in order to accompany them on their journey towards, let us hope, eternal rest. Sleep in peace little children and forgive us for having proven lacking. We beg you to carry with you the images of the love of the peoples of the world instead of the horrors of the massacre of innocents. May the global lullaby we have witnessed appease your mutilated little souls.

God forbid that the Palestinians should become executioners of the children of Israel, God forbid that the soldiers of Hamas or any other resistance fighters should break into the homes of the frightened peasants, render them epileptic with fright, shoot their young babies at point blank , strip the fathers, order them to flee and shoot them in the process. God forbid that they should butcher the parents and leave the very small children beside the corpses of their relatives in order to die of thirst and hunger. God forbid that this should ever happen again. May the suffering of the people of Gaza ennoble them instead of dehumanizing them.The world, instead of condoning the crimes of Israel should try to save Israel from itself. The taboos of guilt which give immunity to Israel enabling it to murder, sack cities, pillage, smash and destroy from behind veils of moral blindness and ethical distortions should be lifted. No country in the world should be given moral immunity.. Is poor civilized Israel defending its citizen or embarking yet once more on a feat of genocide and blood baths. There are so many of them, They regularly punctuate the progress of Israel towards greatness. How dare you call this self defense?

Are we going to continue calling black white, crime virtue, naked savagery humane, excessive violence necessity,.destruction, annihilation of villages, and homes.self defense and all those who attempt to defend their land and children terrorists? What perversion is this, what utter suspension of sanity, logic and feelings. What utter eradication of mercy, compassion and clarity. There would have been no Hamas, Fatah, resistance of any kind if the Palestinians were not deprived of their land and their simplest human rights. If you condemn a whole nation to exile, hunger, humiliation, virtual imprisonment behind walls and blockades and continuous violence, expect them to defend themselves. Expect them to fight back. Expect them to say no. If there is justice to the Palestinian people there will be no Hamas or the likes of Hamas. Such groups come into being because the rights of their people are squandered and overlooked, because their lives are plighted beyond redemption because the only alternative they have is to die either by peace or by war.. No matter how misguided or not they might be, no matter how coherent or incoherent their message is, it is the deafness and the blindness of the world that give them life and sustain them.Do we expect the surviving children of Gaza to grow up normally like other children, do we expect them not to be maimed mentally, spiritually and socially? Do we expect them to sing and dance and fool around, to flirt with girls and play their favorite records like all teenagers outside their inhumane prison ? If they turn into monsters it is our fault.We have been proven unworthy guardians to the traumatized, the deprived and the dispossessed. When a whole nation is orphaned, the world gains custody of them until they are restored and redeemed. The UN has proven the most inadequate of custodians and the world an unworthy guardian, This is a crime not only against humanity but the humanity of humanity. That is why we should ask forgiveness of the Palestinian people. That is why Israel should ask for their forgiveness. All we offer them is a Pauper not a Palestinian State, a state surrounded by senseless walls on a shifting land which is continuously being swallowed up and digested by the settlers of Israel, continuously bulldozed and burnt O we get most upset because they do not fall at our feet and shed tears of gratitude. Shame on us. Shame on the United States. Only five of its members of the House of Representatives voted against Israel's war which in truth is a proxy war on behalf of Israel.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

O World Thou art Sick Part One

The world is sick. There is no doubt about it. The world or more precisely the civilized world is sick. Why is it sick? It is sick because the fate of the world is dictated by super powers, or one super power in particular, which does not know or has elected not to know, choosing to ignore the history of the world, including the roots of conflicts because it has the might to rewrite history as it sees fit, dismantling countries in the process and  embarking on righteous wars of devastation in order to destroy those ways of life that does not conform to our way of life, the Western way of life.  If the super powers of our world today behave like all the super powers that preceded them, it is to be expected, but to pretend that they are the repository of world ethical heritage is most repugnant and totally reprehensible.  Brute power is brute power, at worst nakedly brutally destructive and at best all threatening and domineering. In the bid for unprecedented supremacy, history is abolished and geography reinvented or rearranged.
Once upon a time, about 60 years ago, there was a country called Palestine, the homeland of the Palestinians, .( Please research the history of the conflict. Unbiased accounts exist in history books and encyclopedias). Sixty years ago there was no Israel. It was not always there. So what right has any country in the world, because of the collective amnesia, which has conveniently afflicted the world of power, to ask the Palestinians to follow the world example and permit themselves to contact the disease of forgetfulness. Driven by guilt and the desire for atonement for the tragedy of the Jews and the crimes committed against them in Germany, Europe first, at the instigation of the Zionist  movement,  then the US, decided to create a state for the Jews on the  land of the Palestinian people who were there since the beginning of time..
  Terror and the Sickness of the World 
 We keep hearing about the terror of Hamas, the terror of this faction and that faction.  We keep hearing about the paramount necessity for Israel to defend itself against terror. We keep hearing, and how can we avoid it, about the noble-minded, valiant, ethically and democratically superior Israel sending its beloved sons to defend its people against terrorism  Its troops are marching, in the air, across the seas, on ground marching to silence the terror of the original sons and daughters of Israel now. They are blighting the landscape and clouding the clear pure horizons. Terror must be defeated in order to bring tranquility to the borders of Israel The US says yes of coarse and Europe at best wavers. But who are in reality the masters and instigators of terror?
On terror the fathers of Israel founded Israel (ask the British). By terror they dispersed the Palestinian population.  Through sheer terror the State of Israel keeps maintaining its superiorities, all kinds of them including a superior ethical frame of reference, holier than anything poor humanity has produced over millennia. How many times did the terror of Israel drive the Palestinians from their homes  How many refugee camps did it give birth to.  They spread and multiply only to be annihilated, thus giving birth to more, ever more. And the story goes on. Whatever you build we shall destroy, infrastructures, schools, hospitals,  power and sewage plants, all of them we shall destroy.Your children must know their place and be kept in ignorance, prey to rage, fanaticism, etc.
The collective amnesia of the world powers dictates that Israel exists but Palestine does not, except perhaps as a Pauper state to come. Why should the Palestinians forget Palestine? Because Israel says so? Because the West says so? Because the US says so? Israel wants the huge lie it has created to be imprinted on the world conscience. I exist. But Palestine does not. The Palestinians if they try to oppose are terrorists. How can a people forget their yesterdays and the yesterdays of their ancestors. How can they destroy the very frame of time by accepting that they have no past and no history, that they were born refugees and will stay refugees.
When the Palestinians fight, not necessarily by carrying arms, they are doing so in order to proclaim, my name is Palestine. my homeland is Palestine. the earth of my earth is Palestine. This is my inalienable right.  They call it Israel but I remember that my fathers called it Palestine.  The only people that were destroyed in turning Palestine into Israel were the Palestinians. Hasn't Israel gorged itself on blood yet? Hasn't it had its fill of houses, villages and cities razed to the ground and turned into rubble. How many hells on earth must there be in order for it to say enough is enough.
Cry for thy children Israel and I do not only mean the few Israelis who have died so far, but your children the Palestinians. Aren't they the children of the land and earth upon which you have built your state? Cry for the burnt children and the mutilated bodies of women, young men old men.  Do not say Hamas has started it. You started it 60 years ago. Are the Palestinians perpetually going to die in the past, in the present and in the future ? Somebody is crying in the wilderness.  Somebody is crying in the wasteland of crushed houses amidst the rivers of blood.  The Palestinians, your children.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mourning :No to the Death of Children

Palestinian Women Mourning
Copyright by Khairat AL-Saleh

The Untimely Death of the Children of Gaza

Be still my heart.
The death of infants is upon me
The death of toddlers is upon me
The terrible death of the young is upon me.
Be still my soul
Do not tremble shaking the foundations of the world.
Stand still
Hush in the presence of the ghostly procession
Of the little children
Some pierced in the heart with cast lead
Some legless
Some armless
Some eyeless
I feel damned
I feel my complicity
For having failed to shield and protect.
Can I wash my hands clean of this crime
I am shaking
For the death of children has overtaken me
I have blood on my hands
We have blood on our hands
Shall we ever be forgiven
When you cried mama
Where was I
Where were the mothers of the world
When I heard you cry mama
I raised my eyes to the phosphorous sunset of blood and cried
Be still be still
For the blood of children is all around me
When the burning darkness of the man-made inferno engulfed you
and you rose against the walls of fire ablaze
Held for a moment in the arms of the crackling air
Only to fall fall into heaps of scorched flesh and bones
Where were we
O where were we
For the childish ghostly procession is upon us
12 January 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Lord of the Rings

I am as you might imagine in a state of terrible shock and anguish for my family was caught in the horrors of the Palestinian tragedy and have born witness to its beginnings. In simple words I know the history which turned Palestine into Israel and the Palestinians into a dispossessed disinherited nation of beggars who cannot survive without the charity of the UN and that of their, mostly indifferent, brethren the Arabs, the history which Israel and the free civilized world have chosen to forget and wipe out from the memory of humanity. Therefore what we have now is, as it is overwhelmingly portrayed, a conflict between a sovereign nation, a respectable member of the UN and a bunch of terrorist starving beggars the world would do well by getting rid of them and much better by forgetting all about them. Israel is the brave civilized agent of the free civilized world and is on the move to lighten the burden of the world. If we ask ourselves now what is the cause of the present war in Gaza which has been cited and reiterated again and again among the approvals of the leaders of the unlighted leaders of humanity's march towards new frontiers of democracy, morality and freedom. The answer is that Israel's peace and tranquility is disturbed by the beggars' attempts to save themselves and their children from hunger, disease and degradation. They should remain where they are and keep quiet.  They should accept the huge concentration camp allotted for them, their last refuge after so many flights and displacements and thank the masters for squeezing them impossibly in the most densely populated area in the world, prey to ignorance, frustration, fanaticism and despair, scorned disgraced and despised by the official world and by the rulers of their loving kith and kin, the Arab states.  They are dying now in their hundreds and their children are screaming in agony but Mubarak and many other leaders of the Arab world hesitate, cogitate and waver, standing at odds with their people.  The protests and the anguish of the great generous nation of Egypt go unheeded, for Mubarak must act the politician, anxious not to dismay Israel and the United States, at pains to look after their interests. The masters of the world do not know what they are doing for they have awakened Islam, what kind of Islam I do not know. In the absence of any dignified and humane response by the Arab leaders, The Muslims of the world seem to have adopted the Palestinian cause, especially Turkey. I pray that enlightened Islam will win the day.

 I do not know what is going to happen but I am bearing witness, like many others like me, . Last night as we were all waiting for Israel's ground forces to attack. I saw it all in my mind's eye.. The scene was set amidst the wailing of children and frightened mothers, after days of heavy savage bombardment and after months of softening the people by starvation, disease and humiliation . I do not know why I kept thinking of Shakespeare. Perhaps because of the immensity of the unfolding tragedy.  I saw the mighty invincible Israel with its mighty war machines, its weapons of mass destruction, its state of the arts artillery and tanks spearheaded by its lethal intensive bombardment, I saw it, with the blessings of the US, advance towards the tragic city of paupers and beggars ready for the kill and annihilation. On the other side stood Frodo, hungry, anguished, dirty, cold and tired, with Sam encouraging him and telling him to be consoled for heroic stories would be written about them and it would be said of them that they had stood against the powers of darkness, against the Lord of the Rings, against Mordor and its burning inferno. I can only think in images, bits of literature, poetry, myth and philosophy. I have born witness.

Sunday January 4 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The onslought on Gaza

Half the population of Gaza are children and I believe that those who are not dead or maimed shall be scarred for life and will grow psychologically and mentally deformed. The world or the colonial powers created Israel, Frankenstein, but the world is not paying. The Palestinians are. They are a people living in the land of shadows because Israel has taken away love, freedom,hope and dignity from them. Even if the war stops and peace is restored this generation of Palestinians living under occupation which has lasted for the last 60 years or so have lived all their lives in darkness and darkness will pursue them till the end of their days if the world will not save them. If Israel is anything to judge by I pray to God the Palestinians will not build a state like the state of Israel , a brave dark new country devoid of compassion and humanity. If the Nazis have distorted the psyche of the fathers of Israel while they were under duress, then God forbid that the children of Israel should shape the soul of Palestine to come. They have destroyed the innocence of the Palestinians, the greatest crime any country can inflict on another. . What hideous deformed terrible set of values are they preaching to the world, like those we heard livni preach in Paris, while they are murdering a whole nation with the foulest of means, not only murdering them but clamouring their unworthiness and degeneration. They are not even permitted a decent epitaph. Howl for the death of innocence as Lear howled for the death of Cordelia.
Yes, I feel so strongly about it because I am involved in mankind, because no man is an island . When people like Livni or Bush sing, Donne, Christ, the Buddha and Gandhi are silenced.
1January, 2009